By: Nikka Domini P. Pameroyan
Plastics which we are using today are not Eco-friendly and not safe. The government has been implementing laws which states to minimize the use of plastics so that we could restore the cleanliness of our environment as well as to stop the tearing of our ozone layer and to have a fresh atmosphere. Pollution is one of the causes why people get these different diseases. Plastics have a contribution to the Pollution, since the traditional plastics which are petroleum based are non-biodegradable. It is also one of the causes why floods happen because of the clogged drainage systems which are caused by plastics. Although plastics have a great contribution and help to mankind, it also can harm and affect the environment and the health of the people living in it.
Science has made its way to somehow minimize the causes of pollution and to have a Greener and Cleaner environment, introducing the Bio-Plastics which compose of the main ingredient used in the project: Banana Peels.
Since Bananas contains starch, it possesses the characteristic of being able to absorb humidity and it is also used by packaging drug capsules in the pharmaceutical sector. Some bio-plastics are made of other ingredients like vegetable fats, corn, peas and potatoes which also contains starches. Some bio-plastics are designed to be biodegradable.
This Bio-plastic project was made by an 18 year-old teenager, Elif Bilgin from Istanbul Turkey. Winner of the 2013 $50,000 Science in Action award, part of the third annual Google Science Fair.
What drives her in making this project is that “the bio-plastic is such a new concept and its range of use has been widening ever since it has been discovered (especially in the 21st century). The bio-plastic is a material which has the potential of causing a biological reform by means of reducing the amount of pollution caused by other plastic materials which contain petroleum derivatives. The banana peel is something we we throw away every day, but little do we know, it has much more efficient uses. For example, in Thailand, 200 tons of banana peels are thrown away daily and this number increases each year (Pangnakorn, 2006) and in the fruit industry, banana peels make up around 30-40g per 100g of the total revenue. All those peels may be put into much more use. The banana fruit’s peel was selected for this experiment because it is a waste material rich of starch.” (Elif Bilgin)
Since bananas are rich in starch, She explained that the starch and cellulose present in banana peels are a possible replacement for traditional petroleum based plastic. According to The Packaging Bulletin Magazine’s January issue, it is a proven fact that starch and cellulose are important raw materials used in the bioplastic industry (Packaging Bulletin, 2009).
The making: Similarly sized bananas with no bruises on the skin to ensure that the experimental process is fair. She dipped the bananas in a solution and different concentrations to produce banana paste. After dipping in a solution, it was boiled for 30 minutes. Drying the peels she then added again another mixture and placed it in the oven at 130°C. It was baked for half an hour. After 12 attempts and pilot experiments, 2 of these following experiments were selected and repeated for four times.
According to one of her experiments, 4N ( 4 newton) pulling force on the plastic from the opposite sides showed no change in strength and there was no decay in the plastic after 30 days, therefore the making of the bio-plastic is successfully made.
“This project is so easy that you can actually made it yourself right in your homes” says Elif. By using this innovation, we can make a cleaner and greener environment. The advantages of these are: the plastics are renewable, less energy to produce, easier to recycle, non toxic and it is biodegradable.
Some companies and brands here in the Philippines are using bio-plastics materials in their products example is the Orocan. They are known for the durability of their products. I also found some articles and videos which teaches you how to make your own bio-plastics using different raw materials simply like water, starch, glycerin and vinegar.
Making these bio-plastics can really help minimize the pollution on our environment. Imagine the world replacing all petroleum based plastics to bio-plastics.